Typhoo publishes suppliers to complete tea transparency jigsaw

12 April 2019

Typhoo has become the final ‘big 6’ tea brand to publish its list of tea suppliers in Assam – marking the end of secrecy in the UK tea sector, according to the international development charity Traidcraft Exchange.

The move completes the transformation of the UK tea industry in response to the ‘Who picked my tea?’ campaign led by Traidcraft Exchange and supported by anti-slavery organisation Freedom United.

“Typhoo’s tea declaration means that we now know where the vast majority of the tea we drink in the UK comes from. More importantly, women in Assam who pick tea for us now know exactly where it ends up,” said Mary Milne, Head of Campaigns & Communications for Traidcraft Exchange.

Typhoo’s move comes in the wake of a joint campaign action by Traidcraft Exchange and Freedom United which specifically targeted Typhoo as the last remaining ‘big 6’ brand to publish its list of suppliers. More than three thousand people took the action.

Before the ‘Who picked my tea?’ campaign was launched in May 2018 none of the UK’s biggest tea brands disclosed where they bought their tea from. Yet in less than a year Yorkshire Tea, Twinings, Tetley, Clipper, PG Tips, and now Typhoo have felt compelled to respond to public pressure.

The campaign focused on tea grown in Assam because pay and conditions for workers there are amongst the worst in the world and tea grown in Assam is a key ingredient in many English Breakfast blends and speciality teas consumed in the UK.

Undercover investigators hired by Traidcraft Exchange confirmed evidence of low wages and appalling conditions for the women who pick the tea we drink in the UK. These backed up claims made by local organisations operating in India.

‘Who picked my tea?’ provides a powerful example of a consumer campaign that cut through and changed the way the big tea brands do business.

More than fifteen thousand people wrote to the big 6 UK tea brands asking them to publish the full list of tea estates they buy from in Assam. Hundreds took part in ‘Who picked my tea? On tour’ in public events across the UK.

"Thanks to the support of tea drinkers in the UK now we know where the tea our parents and sisters pick is sold. That means we can ask British brands to ensure the standards they have promised are met,” said Stephen Lakra, President, of the All Adivasi Students Association of Assam.

In less than a year the tea sector has moved from a situation of complete silence over sourcing to become one of the most transparent business sectors in the UK, enabling consumers to track the tea they drink from leaf to cup.

“The challenge now is to make sure all this new information drives change on the ground in Assam. To this end we will continue to work with local groups in Assam so that they can use this information in their struggle for better pay and conditions,” concluded Mary Milne.

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 For more information contact Mary Milne mary.milne@traidcraft.org or 07759 222201 or 020 3752 5718

 Notes for editors:

Emilie Schultze